Mirror Dory, Zenopsis nebulosa (Temminck & Schlegel 1845)

Other Names: Deepsea Dory, Deepwater Dory, Mirror Perch, Silver Dory, Trawl Dory

A Mirror Dory, Zenopsis nebulosa, from a seamount in the Tasman Sea, May 2003. Source: Robin McPhee & Mark McGrouther / NORFANZ Founding Parties. License: All rights reserved


An extremely compressed silvery-grey dory with a large, faint, midlateral blotch, blackish membranes on the spinous dorsal fin, pelvic fins and outer part of the caudal fin. Juveniles are silver with many indistinct, dark irregular blotches of varying sizes on the sides, spinous dorsal-fin membrane and pelvic fins. 

The Mirror Dory lacks scales except for tiny lateral-line scales, and has a series of large bucklers along the bases of the dorsal and anal fins, and along the ventral midline from in front of the anal-fin origin. 

Video of a Mirror Dory in Tokyo Sea Life Park.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2023, Zenopsis nebulosa in Fishes of Australia, accessed 18 Jul 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/1867

Mirror Dory, Zenopsis nebulosa (Temminck & Schlegel 1845)

More Info


Off Dunk Island, Queensland, around southern Australia, to off Broome, Western Australia; also the Lord Howe Rise and Norfolk Ridge in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species occurs in the east-Indo-Pacific.


Dorsal fin VIII-X, 24-27; Anal fin III, 23-26; Caudal fin 13; Pectoral fin 10-13; Pelvic fin I, 5l Lateral line approx. 65. 
Body deep, strongly compressed, more or less oval in shape; caudal peduncle narrow.  Head very large; eyes of relatively small to moderate size; mouth very large and protrusible, upper jaw length greater than snout; small canine teeth present in jaws and on vomer.  
Scales absent except for those supporting lateral line; lateral line arched anteriorly; large bony bucklers present at bases of dorsal and anal fins (10-14 at dorsal-fin base, 6-9 at anal-fin base); bucklers also present between isthmus and anal-fin origin.  
Dorsal fin in two parts, comprising centrally placed spinous first dorsal with base of moderate length, attached by low membrane to long based and low soft dorsal; spines relatively slender, those of first dorsal elongate, longest approximately equal to head length with interspinous membrane produced into filaments beyond each spine; anal fin similar to and opposite second dorsal fin, spines prominent; caudal fin large, truncate. Pectoral fins small, rounded.  Pelvic fins elongate, extending to just before or beyond anal-fin origin.


Silver-grey, with a large, faint, midlateral blotch; spinous dorsal-fin membrane, pelvic fin and outer part of caudal fin blackish.

Juveniles are very silver with many indistinct, dark irregular blotches of varying sizes on sides, spinous dorsal-fin membrane and pelvic fin.


The mirror dory is commercially important throughout much of its range, and is trawled on the continental slope around southeastern Australia.

Species Citation

Zeus nebulosus Temminck & Schlegel 1845, in Siebold (ed.) Fauna Japonica Vol. 4(8): 123, pl. 66. Type locality: seas of Japan (as 'Mers du Japon').


Bray, D.J. 2023


Atlas of Living Australia

Mirror Dory, Zenopsis nebulosa (Temminck & Schlegel 1845)


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls. 

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls. 

Bray, D.J. 1994. Families Zeidae, Oreosomatidae. pp. 416-427 figs 373-381 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs. 

Bray, D.J. 2008. Family Zeidae. pp. 438-440 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp. 

Fricke, R., Kulbicki, M. & Wantiez, L. 2011. Checklist of the fishes of New Caledonia, and their distribution in the Southwest Pacific Ocean (Pisces). Stuttgarter Beitr├Ąge zur Naturkunde. Serie A (Biologie) Neue Serie 4: 341-463 

Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp. 

Kai, Y. & Tashiro, F. 2019. Zenopsis filamentosa (Zeidae), a new mirror dory from the western Pacific Ocean, with redescription of Zenopsis nebulosaIchthyological Research 66(3): 340-352https://doi.org/10.1007/s10228-018-00679-1

Kailola, P.J., Williams, M.J., Stewart, P.C., Reichelt, R.E., McNee, A. & Grieve, C. 1993. Australian Fisheries Resources. Canberra : Bureau of Resource Sciences and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation 422 pp. 

May, J.L. & Maxwell, J.G.H. 1986. Field Guide to Trawl Fish from Temperate Waters of Australia. Hobart : CSIRO Division of Marine Research 492 pp. 

Nakabo, T., Bray, D.J. & Yamada, Y. 2006. A new species of Zenopsis (Zeiformes: Zeidae) from the South China Sea, East China Sea and off Western Australia. Memoirs of Museum Victoria 63(1): 91-96 http://doi.org/10.24199/j.mmv.2006.63.11

Prokop, F. 2002. Australian Fish Guide. Croydon South, Victoria : Australian Fishing Network 256 pp. 

Temminck, C.J. & Schlegel, H. 1845. Pisces. pp. 133-152 pls 72-77, 78 (in part) in Siebold, P. Fr de (ed.). Fauna Japonica. Leyden : Apud Arnz & Socios Vol. 4(8). See ref at BHL

Wada, H., Ito, M. & Motomura, H. 2021. First record of Zenopsis filamentosa (Zeidae) from the Satsuma Peninsula, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan, and an assessment of the diagnostic characters of Z. nebulosaIchthy, Natural History of Fishes of Japan 13: 43-49 https://doi.org/10.34583/ichthy.13.0_43

Waite, E.R. 1903. Additions to the fish-fauna of Lord Howe Island, No. 3. Records of the Australian Museum 5(1): 20-45, Pls. 3-5. https://doi.org/10.3853/j.0067-1975.5.1903.1027 (as Zenopsis scopus)

Yearsley, G.K., Last, P.R. & Ward, R.D. (eds) 1999. Australian Seafood Handbook. Hobart : CSIRO Marine Research 460 pp.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37264003

Depth:40-760 m

Fishing:Commercial fish


Max Size:70 cm TL

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